The Department of the Interior in the West, 1873-1883 : an examination of some hitherto neglected aspects of the work of the outside service

Thumbnail Image
Kemp, Herbert Douglas
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
"Truly the history of North-West Canada is contained in the iron vaults of the Department of the Interior." In sixteen short clauses an act of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada in 1873 provided for the establishment of the Department of the Interior. The brevity and directness of this act, is expressive of the sanguine spirit of the Government in its approach to the tremendous task of incorporating a primitive area into the framework of the new trans-continental economic and political system being erected. The system, based on three national economic policies, settlement of the North-West, transcontinental transportation through all-Canadian territory, and industrialization by protective tariffs, was to falter seriously because of the Great Depression which stemmed the flow of the world economy until 1896. The Department of the Interior, born just weeks before the advent of this universal calamity, seems to have been inbued with the courage and confidence which marked the boom days of its nativity. In ten years it had so prepared the path in the North-West, that the national policies of settlement and transcontinental transportation could progress, essentially unhindered by local impediments...